By Liya Davidov
The Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion hosted its final speaker of the year in its Diversity Speaker Series on April 9 in the Education Building Room 115.
The speaker, Courtland Bragg, is a two-time Emmy Award-winning producer who works full time for NFL Films. Director of Diversity and Inclusion Don Trahan introduced Bragg, who inspired College students in attendance by sharing his life-story.
“I think it’s important,” Trahan said. “We think about diversity to understand the variety of what diversity actually means. (Bragg) is going to impart on you information that will truly change your life.”
Opening his presentation with a recent NFL Films production of his, Bragg explained that the success he now has all started when he was at West Chester University. Bragg spoke about his aspirations of playing in the NFL and how the only reason he was turned away from a Division I scholarship was his height.
“My first taste of rejection. 16 years old. Heartbroken.” Bragg said. “Was I going to let it defeat me, or was I going to keep going?”
Bragg explained that the next step for him was finding his purpose.
“It is a tragedy to walk in life and go into this world and not know why you were born, why you are here,” he said. “Your purpose is so important and you have to find that right now.”
Throughout his entire presentation, Bragg emphasized the urgency people should have in searching for a purpose in life, and he recognized college as the four-year window to do so. With the room full of college students, Bragg singled out every grade and continued to announce the importance of the here-and-now. Students agreed that Bragg helped motivate them to prepare for their dreams.
“His energy was infectious,” said Joshua Contreras, a freshman biomedical engineering major. “He’s right. You need to give yourself a value before you reach a level of success.”
However, Bragg’s focus on the present did not leave out any detail of his journey from the past. The rejection at 16 years old was not his only one — Bragg spoke about how he was a substitute teacher for many months while struggling out of college to earn the dream job he was passionate about pursuing, as well as how depression was a factor during that period of time.
“I went from the NFL to substitute teaching,” Bragg said. “I went from interviewing the lives of NFL players to telling kids, ‘Why are you late to class?’ I’ve been rejected so many times in my life I’ve become numb to it. I kind of sometimes expect it. But it’s all about perspective. I just needed one ‘yes.’”
Bragg found writing to be his outlet through the difficult times in his life. He spoke about the three Ps — purpose, platform and passion, and how they were the stepping stones he needed in order to pursue his dreams.
He explained how purpose creates a platform that fuels passion. For Bragg, that meant his life’s journey leading him to working for the NFL. He used his credibility to fuel his passion for speaking to high school and college students about their own journeys.
Just as Bragg hoped, he was able to inspire his audience to take advantage of the present moment.
“It was very relatable, especially for everyone trying to find what they want to do,” said Victoria Yuknek, a freshman mechanical engineering major. “I feel like I can figure out what I want to do.”